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What to do when a friend betrays your trust

Friendship can be complicated, and sometimes, those close friends that we invest in can do things that hurt us. Whether they do it directly or indirectly, whether they mean to upset you or not, it is always difficult to know how to deal with this kind of situation. That’s why we’ve got a quick guide to how you can manage it when a friend betrays your trust. 

Want to know more about this? Read this article on if they are REALLY your friend.

Sort the fact from the fiction

Whatever has happened between you and your friend, there is likely to be a lot of rumours about what is going on. In fact, we’d put money on you hearing about all of this from someone who knows someone who knows your friend’s cousin. Stories get twisted, and gossip often runs the show when we fall out with friends. But sorting the fact from the fiction is the only way you will be able to figure out what really happened. And even if you don’t like the idea of talking to them about it, it should be your first port of call. 

Give them a chance to explain themselves

Unfortunately, when a friend betrays your trust you are not likely to get the truth from everyone around you, as they are much more likely to relay rumours, or just tell you what they think you want to hear. Often, this comes with the best of intentions, but it still means you should probably hear what the other person has to say directly from them. Choose a time when you can have the conversation in private, in person or over the phone. 

When you talk to them, try to manage your emotions

If you do decide to speak to them, it’s important that you try to manage your emotions. Getting angry or upset is not going to be very productive, especially if you think that you would like to carry on being with friends with them when all of this is in the past. Let them talk about why they did what they did, and give them the space to own up to everything. It’s only when you have all the facts that you can decide what to do next, and you are not going to get them by calling them names, spreading rumours about them or retaliating. 

Consider if you think they are being truthful with you 

It can be hard to figure out if someone is lying to you, especially if they are your friend and you hope they would be better than that, or if emotions are running high. So listen to what they have to say and think about if their version of events makes sense to you. It might be a genuine misunderstanding, and they apologise straight away. If not, or they refuse to give you their version of events, it might be worth considering if the friendship is worth investing more of your energy in.

Think about their behaviour before this incident 

Ask yourself:

  • How were they as a friend before this happened?
  • Were they honest with you?
  • Did they always make you feel included?
  • Have they supported you through tough times, without hoping for something in return?
  • Did they ever spread rumours about you, or tell your secrets to others? 
  • Did they put you down, or make you feel bad about yourself?
  • How did they treat you in front of others? 
  • Do you have more bad memories with them than good ones?

And evaluate if you think you can keep their energy in your life

Think about your answers to some of the questions above. Write down the answers if you have to. Then think about if the energy they bring to your life is positive or negative. If you find it is overwhelmingly negative, then it might be time to move away from their friendship. We know this can be scary, especially if you feel like you might be isolating yourself. But the world is a big place full of wonderful people, and you will find friends that will back you no matter what, and will do so without thinking about what they can get in return. They are out there, we promise. 

If you decide to forgive, do so fully and move on

If you do decide that you want to forgive them, know that you must do so completely. Holding on to a grudge after you’ve said the words “I forgive you” is not only going to hurt you, but it will hurt your friendship in the future. If every time a little tiff over something small comes up and all you do is think about that one time they betrayed your trust, then neither of you have any hope of growing or moving on. 

Remember, it doesn’t have to be fixed straight away.

If you don’t think you can forgive them, then take some more time. Time and space from the situation will give you both a chance to reevaluate your friendship and your feelings towards each other and to this situation. It will mean that you are much less likely to say something that you regret, and give you both a better chance at moving forward instead of repeating the same patterns of behaviour.  

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